US Open victory yet to sink in for Raducanu

Published September 16, 2021
Britain's Emma Raducanu poses with the US Open tennis championship trophy after her match against Leylah Fernandez of Canada in the women's singles final the 2021 US Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in New York, US, September 11. — Reuters
Britain's Emma Raducanu poses with the US Open tennis championship trophy after her match against Leylah Fernandez of Canada in the women's singles final the 2021 US Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in New York, US, September 11. — Reuters

LONDON: US Open champion Emma Raducanu said on Wednesday that her sensational win at Flushing Meadows had yet to sink in and that the 18 months she took off from the sport provided her with the “hunger” to prevail in New York.

The 18-year-old Briton stunned the tennis world by defeating Canada’s Leylah Fernandez in straight sets on Saturday to become the first qualifier to capture a Grand Slam title.

Raducanu became Britain’s first Grand Slam champion in women’s singles since Virginia Wade in 1977 and did not drop a set during her run to the title in New York.

“I feel great. Everything that’s happened in the last 72 hours has been so much fun... it still hasn’t really sunk in, but occasionally I’ll remember that I won the US Open. So yeah, a really funny feeling,” she told the WTA website.

Raducanu took a break from tennis last year due to the pandemic and also because her parents insisted that she should complete her high school exams.

“Having 18 months away... coming out you play every match like you don’t know when your last match will be. That was how I was approaching the whole summer... But the biggest thing is that I never once got ahead of myself,” she said.

“For three weeks I just played the opponent in front of me, I took care of what I wanted to try and achieve on that day against that opponent, and just repeated it for three weeks.”

Raducanu has made a string of public appearances since her win last weekend, the most high-profile being at the Met Gala in New York on Monday.

The teenager called her red-carpet experience “eye-opening”, adding: “At the Met Gala everyone is so experienced and so accomplished in their own way and it was really cool to hear how they are and their perspective on things.”

The new world number 23 shot to fame at Wimbledon earlier this year, reaching the fourth round in her first Grand Slam, and intends to have a short rest after a whirlwind two months.

“I have a few days’ rest and recovery [coming up], I think needed after the last seven weeks,” she told American broadcaster CNBC on Tuesday.

“But then I am straight back to training and hungry to get better and come back out and play some more tournaments.”

Raducanu could receive a wild card to the WTA Tour’s prestigious Indian Wells tournament in California next month.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2021

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